15 February 2017

Yorkshire Cancer Research Invests £4.5m to Improve Cancer Treatment in Sheffield

Cancer patients in Sheffield are set to benefit from the latest innovations in treatment and care due to a multi-million pound research programme from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The charity will join forces with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in a ground breaking collaboration that will combine pioneering scientific and technological developments with initiatives designed to improve cancer outcomes in the region.

The £4.5m investment will fund the appointment of 10 of the UK’s most promising researchers and cancer specialists, whose expertise will further reinforce Sheffield as one of the best centres in the country for patient-focused cancer research.

Their appointments will build on the international reputation of the Weston Park Cancer Clinical Trials Centre and bring together clinicians and researchers across the city in the fight against cancer.

The programme, led by Robert Coleman, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Sheffield, will focus on four key strategic areas:

  • Developing and testing new ways to diagnose and assess lung cancer
  • Carrying out innovative clinical trials
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of patients living with and beyond cancer
  • Addressing health inequalities by improving early diagnosis and access to treatment

The appointments will be made over the next three years and each project will run for five years. The research will involve thousands of patients living in the South Yorkshire area, and the funding is expected to attract further investment into cancer research in Sheffield.


Estimated number of people currently living with or beyond cancer in Sheffield

“This major investment by Yorkshire Cancer Research means that Sheffield can continue to pioneer new treatments to give cancer patients a brighter future,” said Professor Coleman.

“Cancer will affect one in two of us in our lifetime, but our ground breaking research means that patients in our region benefit from revolutionary treatments.”

An estimated 18,235 people in Sheffield are currently living with or beyond cancer. This number is expected to increase to 28,450 people by 2030, meaning significantly more people will need access to the best treatment and long-term care.

Sheffield is one of the highest ranked deprived local authorities in the country, and cancer outcomes tend to be worse in areas of high deprivation. The reasons behind this include higher levels of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, poor knowledge and awareness of symptoms, and barriers in access to healthcare.

Lung cancer incidence rates in Sheffield are higher than the national average, with 103 cases per 100,000 people diagnosed in Sheffield compared to 78 in England. 89% of lung cancers are caused by smoking or other preventable factors.

The number of preventable, premature deaths from all cancers in Sheffield is also higher than the national average. There were 90 preventable deaths per 100,000 people under the age of 75 in Sheffield during 2013-15 compared to 81 in England.

The investment is part of a 10 year strategy announced last year by Yorkshire Cancer Research to ensure 2,000 more people living in Yorkshire survive cancer every year by 2025.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Interim Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We are incredibly proud to be able to fund this unique programme of research in Sheffield. We are excited to be working with our region’s leading cancer experts to improve the lives of people living in South Yorkshire.

“At Yorkshire Cancer Research we believe every single person in every community in and around Yorkshire should have the very best chance of living a long and healthy life with, without and beyond cancer. We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters for making this investment possible.”

Professor Chris Newman, Faculty Director of Research at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted to be entering into this major strategic partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research. This generous funding will help us to attract the next generation of world class cancer researchers to Sheffield.

“Working alongside our senior consultants and academics, these new researchers will accelerate our programmes to develop and implement new treatments to benefit patients in our region but of course also more widely.”

Keith Scurrah
Tony Weetman

Dr Trish Fisher, Clinical Director at Weston Park Cancer Centre said: 

“The ability to offer many of our patients the chance to be part of cutting edge clinical trials, that can not only improve their cancer outcomes, but also pave the way for advancements in cancer treatments, is one of the reasons that Weston Park is a leading UK cancer centre."

“We are delighted to receive this funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research, and to be working in partnership with the University of Sheffield to further increase our research capabilities to the benefit of our patients."

Keith Scurrah, 74, is a prostate cancer patient at Weston Park Hospital. He is currently taking part in a clinical trial at the Cancer Research Unit.

He said: “I took a moment to consider whether to take part in a clinical trial, but I knew that if it wasn’t going to suit me then I could come off it. All the staff here have been brilliant. They talk you through everything they’re doing so you understand what’s happening. From what I’ve been told, taking part in the trial could prolong my life, and if it can help other patients too, I’m all for it. I think the investment is absolutely brilliant. The more money they can put into research the better. It’s going to help a lot of people.”

Tony Weetman was diagnosed with cancer behind his nose in November last year. As the former Dean of the School of Medicine and Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, he has experienced healthcare in Sheffield as both a researcher and a patient.

He said: “Having seen this both from the research side in my former role and as a cancer patient, this is a terrific investment for the University and the Trust. This funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research will allow us to continue our excellent research partnership for the benefit of patients in Sheffield and in Yorkshire."

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